Love is a b****. When that love betrays you, it can set off a ripple effect that lingers years later. In the case of Dolores Roach, betrayal leads the woman to a Sweeney Todd-style comedy of errors. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong for her. At the center of it all is her desire to find the man she once loved. A serious story on the surface, THE HORROR OF DOLORES ROACH will have you laughing your butt off and cheering for Dolores until the very end.

THE HORROR OF DOLORES ROACH, as you might guess, follows the titular character, Dolores Roach (Justina Machado). Taking ownership of her own story, viewers are taken back in time to the turbulent time after Dolores is released from prison. After being arrested and doing 16 years, Dolores returns to a gentrified Washington Heights. The only thing that remains from her time before her sentence? A local empanada shop.

Running the empanada shop is Luis Batista (Alejandro Hernandez), a failing business owner with many screws loose. He offers Dolores a place to stay until she can figure out how to recalibrate her life. Deciding to tap into her magical hand skills, she advertises herself as a masseuse. Unfortunately, her association with Luis and a massage-gone-wrong jump-starts the downward spiral of cannibalism, chaos, and murder that will take over her life.


Created by Aaron Mark as a one-woman show originally, THE HORROR OF DOLORES ROACH has benefited from the amount of time, energy, and fine-tuning Mark has put into the story. It’s no wonder that this dark comedic horror series runs smoothly. Right off the bat with Justina Machado’s voice-over, we know we’re in for a treat. She’s so dang likable. Even when Dolores commits murder, you can’t help but hope everything turns out okay for her.

Machado’s energy working off Alejandro Hernandez’s Luis is dynamic. Their barrage of back-and-forth dialogue makes it hard to turn away. As Dolores gets more frustrated and scared, Luis is the opposite, which makes for great moments of acting, direction, and writing in the series. Hernandez gives big-time stoner energy, which lends itself well when he is given the most psychotic things to do and say.

The range of characters Dolores meets once out of prison is enough to send anyone off the deep end. From the self-referential podcaster, Caleb (Jeffrey Self), to the overly helpful business neighbor, Joy (Jean Yoon), to the cutthroat drug wielder, Marcie (Judy Reyes), everyone is firing on all cylinders with their timing and delivery. They chew up their respective scenes and can grab the spotlight for themselves once it hits them. Also, K. Todd Freeman‘s Jeremiah has a journey I wasn’t expecting, and he nails every aspect of his character’s eye-popping arc along the way.

Don’t skimp on the meat

While THE HORROR OF DOLORES ROACH is hilarious, it doesn’t skimp on covering several important topics. Most importantly, we have another example of how society continues to fail released prisoners. Without anyone willing to take a chance on her due to bias and competitive people, Dolores is caught between a rock and a hard place. The way in which this underlying topic is tackled is seamless.

We also see how gentrification is handled. While landlords have no problem dismissing Washington Heights as dangerous and undesirable, the neighborhood Dolores once knew is no longer like that. The people she once knew are gone or have been displaced. Instead, mostly white yuppies have moved into the neighborhood and have stripped it of its character, while landlords are charging a kidney for rent.

I’d argue these themes are the true horror in the series, but that’s a joke. Though, let’s face it. Trying to afford rent in this economy is a horror story that never ends. No, here the horror manifests in its body horror, more specifically of the cannibalistic variety. If you’re looking for some brutal tearing of the flesh, THE HORROR OF DOLORES ROACH doesn’t go there. The undercurrent, even in these scenes, is still largely comedic.

With smooth pacing, clever and hilarious dialogue, and highly charismatic performances, THE HORROR OF DOLORES ROACH has a lot going for it. It is comedic gold and will have you questioning your morals each time Dolores murders someone.

THE HORROR OF DOLORES ROACH premieres on Prime Video on July 7, 2023.

Sarah Musnicky
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